What is Pilates?
Pilates refers to a form of exercise that focuses on activating your deep core muscles and incorporates them into safely controlling a variety of movements.
There are many approaches to pilates that vary in difficulty and skill level, equipment and the aim of the exercises.
As taught at some of our PhysioWorks clinics in Brisbane, clinical Pilates is specifically designed for people with back, neck or shoulder pain and movement dysfunction! Clinical pilates includes various exercises that train your core muscles to switch on during dynamic movements of your body.
Why is Pilates Important for You?
Your core muscles are very important in providing stability at each segment of the spine during movement. Research shows that the core muscles tend to “switch off” or become underactive in people with back pain. This means that although the initial episode of back pain may settle, 80% of people with an acute back pain incident will develop recurring back pain within one year of the initial injury.
Core stability retraining is a vital part of the rehabilitation process and will markedly reduce your risk of reinjury. These muscles must learn to switch on when you are not moving and during day-to-day activities such as rolling over in bed, bending over, reaching and sitting at a desk for prolonged periods.
Pilates has been proven to effectively re-train all of your core muscles through a range of different movements and can be altered to cater for your individual needs!
Who is Suited to Pilates?
Sadly, Pilates isn’t for everyone! Overaggressive pilates exercise programs that are too difficult for your body can cause pain and injury. At PhysioWorks, we regularly treat patients who have increased their back pain at poorly run or supervised pilates classes.
Pilates, Yoga, gym strengthening and other forms of exercise can place high demands on your core stability system. If the core muscle recruitment order is abnormal, your chance of injury increases in proportion with the exercise difficulty.
Remember, if you build a tower on a poor foundation, it will eventually topple. The same goes for your core stability muscles.
Look what happened to the Leaning Tower of Pisa… it’s got lousy core stability!
However, recruiting the deeper core muscles before your superficial layers like adding floors to a sturdy skyscraper and your back will be strong and pain-free forever.
What’s the Link Between Pilates and Core Stability?
The whole ‘core stability’ phenomenon started in the 1920s with a chap named Joseph Pilates, whose exercise regimes have become quite trendy in the last ten years.
Pilates talked about developing a ‘girdle of strength’ by learning to recruit the deep-trunk muscles. Even without complete knowledge of anatomy and the benefits of the latest muscle activity research, he was aware of the importance of these deep muscles and their supportive effects.
Put, core stability training targets explicitly the smaller and deeper back and stomach muscles. Once recruited, these muscles control the position of the spine during dynamic movements of your body.
Common Lower Back Pain Causes
The following conditions may cause lower back pain.
- Back Cramps
- Back Muscle Pain
- Core Stability Deficiency
- DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- Side Strain
- Back Stress Fracture
- Scheuermann's Disease
- Spinal Stenosis
- Stress Fracture Spine (Cricket Bowlers)
Back Joint Injuries
Article by John Miller
Youth Spinal Pain
Teenager Neck & Back Pain
Teenagers can be particularly vulnerable to back pain, mainly due to a combination of high flexibility and low muscle strength and posture control.
The competitive athlete and most individuals who exercise regularly or maintain fitness and core stability control are less prone to spine injury and problems due to the strength and flexibility of supporting structures. Luckily, issues involving the lower lumbar spine are rare in athletes and account for less than 10% of sports-related injuries. Injuries do occur in contact sports and with repetitive strain sports. Your physiotherapist can assist in the resolution of any deficits in this area.
Sports such as gymnastics, cricket fast bowlers, and tennis have a higher incidence of associated lumbar spine problems related to repetitive twisting and hyper-bending motions.
Spondylolisthesis is a significant concern and needs to be appropriately treated by a physiotherapist with a particular interest in these types of injuries. Luckily, most injuries are minor, self-limited, and respond quickly to physiotherapy treatment.
Common Adolescent Spinal Injuries
Lower Back (Lumbar Spine)
Midback (Thoracic Spine)
Neck (Cervical Spine)
For specific advice regarding youth neck or back pain, please seek the professional advice of your trusted spinal physiotherapist or doctor.